|Metropolitan Lavrentiy (Hutsulyak) about the 20th anniversary since the legalization of the UGCC|
In 2009 the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church celebrated the 20th anniversary of legalization, which took place after decades of totalitarian prohibition and persecution. In a number of cities, such as Lviv, Drohobych, Ternopil’, Ivano-Frankivs’k, Sambir and others, solemn celebrations of this anniversary were conducted. The people recalled the events of the past 20 years and expressed their gratitude to God for the gift of freedom.
Bishop Lavrentiy (Hutsalyak), Metropolitan of Winnipeg, shared his memories about how our people in Canada perceived the emergence of the Church from the underground with the Information Department. He in particular noted: “For us in Canada this event caused great joy, although it was hard to believe it. We already knew about the political changes in the Soviet Union, but did not know whether these changes would have an effect on the Church’s life in Ukraine. When finally everything was completed with the legalization of our Church we were glad that our people could go to their churches, pray together, meet each other, and be themselves. Freedom is indeed a great gift for which we are infinitely thankful to God.”
In addition to the memories about the past of the UGCC, Bishop Lavrentiy also described how the Church in Ukraine lives and has developed since it obtained freedom. “I see great changes for the better. It does not mean that all affairs run perfectly and successfully. There are problems which we resolve. But in general we see a new spiritual development of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and it gives us new enthusiasm and energy to work for our Church and people,” Metropolitan of Winnipeg said.
In the period from 1946 to 1989 the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was the largest banned church in the world. At the same time it became the largest structure of public opposition to the Soviet system in the USSR. Despite cruel persecution, the Church, due to the carefully worked out system of secret seminaries, monasteries, parishes and youth groups, continued to live in the underground until it was legalized on December 1, 1989.
Information Department of the UGCC